NOW THIS: I could not survive as a choirmaster without the phenomenal hymnal we use at our parish. We spend so much time working on Renaissance Mass settings, contemporary polyphony, and plainsong that we don’t have rehearsal time remaining for hymnody. But here’s the awesome part: the Brébeuf hymnal makes it possible—because of the unprecedented method used in its choral supplement—for singers to add parts, even though many have never sung in a choir before.
Below is a live recording from a few days ago. Notice how the voices keep splitting off into harmony (with each subsequent verse), something only possible thanks to the revolutionary way the score is printed in the Brébeuf choral supplement:
Not A Perfect Recording: I don’t claim that recording is perfect … but for a volunteer choir which is sight-reading, I’m quite pleased. We’re on the right track; and choirs need delightful, bright, fun pieces like this one. This beautiful tune—known as “ROCKINGHAM”—is worth singing, worth learning, and worthy of the temple. For the record, this melody appears in reputable Catholic hymnals. For instance, it’s Number 72 in the London Oratory Hymnal (as a hymn for Lent). In the New Westminster Hymnal it’s Number 73, paired with a hymn by Saint Thomas Aquinas (as a hymn for the Holy Eucharist).
Restoration: The other day I spoke about the Second Vatican Council’s missed opportunity vis-à-vis revision of the hymns. The Council declared—Sacrosanctum Concilium §93—that “the hymns are to be restored to their original form.” Sadly, what happened too often was elimination of verses. The ancient hymn for All Saints (1 November) is a good example. When Vatican II “restored” this hymn, a verse was deleted. However, the Brébeuf hymnal always gives you the entire hymn, with no verses deleted. It is without question the hymnal with the most textual authenticity; yet few these days seem to care about textual integrity.
Here’s a live recording of “Placáre Christe Sérvulis” (a.k.a. “Christe Redemptor”) from a few days ago:
Common Hymn Melodies: That hymn is number 161 in the Brébeuf hymnal. Notice how it utilizes what I have spoken about frequently—something absolutely necessary for choirmasters wishing to make headway in today’s environment—namely Common Hymn Melodies.